Recently a few friends have been in motor vehicle accidents incurring bad injuries to their necks. The neck is a fragile area not well protected by a seat belt. Any blunt force to your car is amplified into your neck area through an acceleration/deceleration moment on your head. Your muscles and ligaments are trying to slow that force down and they can only withstand so much force before they tear. This is how you get a whiplash injury.
This tearing occurs at what is called the “necking point” (somewhat ironic) or the fatigue point of the tissue. Subsequently, with tissue failure, you have bleeding, swelling, pain and probably muscular spasm. Your body spasms to splint your neck, to protect it from going near that necking point again. If you have ever been in a car accident, you know exactly what I mean. How to get rid of all the pain is the first question.
If an acute whiplash patient walks into my office, I will first assess their ability to move. If they have a severe movement restriction, I almost always recommend a soft cervical collar. This will take some of the load off your neck that is trying to hold up your 10 to 15 pound head. These muscles that have been overstretched and traumatized, and thus cannot do the work. A cervical collar should help give your neck the reset time its needs. Compare this theory to an ankle sprain. The first thing you do is ace wrap it and get on crutches. This goes for the neck, also. Wrap it up and un-weight it; this is a successful way to manage an acute whiplash injury. Most people worry that their neck will get too stiff with a collar on. I always say that as a physical therapist, “I can get most motion back out of a stiff area, but I can not tighten up a loose area.”
Then what? I always recommend a visit to your physician who can order x-rays and make sure there are no life-threatening issues from your injuries.
Make good friends with your local physical therapist. They will evaluate your muscles, ligaments. and nerves to determine the extent of your injuries and help you reduce pain and spasm to regain motion. Then they will teach you how to protect your neck and re-strengthen your damaged muscles that hold up your precious head. The timing of your healing process can vary significantly depending on the extent of your injuries. Whiplash injuries are very stressful to live with, and the pain of an acute whiplash injury are restoring normal health are challenging. See out the medical advice and take care of your neck by protecting it after an accident. I believe that early intervention with an acute whiplash injury is the key to successful outcome.
If you think you might have suffered whiplash in an accident and would like to discuss this with me. Click below.